Review – Audiobook: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publish Date: August 21, 2012
Format: Audio, 14 hours | 29 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 2½ of 5
William Talmadge is a quiet, reclusive man who keeps to himself spending his days tending an apple orchard on a small piece of land in the Pacific Northwest. He is a man with a troubled past, one that he rarely speaks about, but the memories haunt him. His sister went missing when she was a young girl and was never found.
One day he observes two teenage girls stealing the fruit he has harvested for market. Pregnant and scared they hide from him but later return for more food. Talmadge, not knowing their story but feeling sympathy for the young, frightened girls, allows them to remain on his land. He is happy to provide them safety, but someone is searching for them and wants them back. Soon men show up at the orchard and demand Talmadge turn them over only to set off a chain of horrifying events.
This is not a happy story. It is mostly bleak, depressing and filled with despair. The plot moves along slowly, often boringly so. There were occasional bright spots in the lovely descriptive language of the beauty of the landscape and the wonder of the orchard, but even that was often way too lengthy and made the story drag.
It was a struggle at times to keep going but I had read positive reviews and was hoping the story would pick up the pace. I continued listening and it did get more interesting but unfortunately it only got more depressing. In the end, while I understood some of their motivations, I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters.
The audio was read by Mark Bramhall in an unemotional, almost bland, tone. I assume this was meant to depict the seriousness and bleakness of story but the result was to make it feel longer than the 14½ hours it took to listen to this book. I don’t have a problem with long audiobooks; I’ve listened to a few in 20+ hour range and the time flew by, but this felt long.
This book was not a good fit for me. I can handle troubled characters and a story filled with despair, but I prefer a faster pace and a less verbose writing style. Other reviewers have enjoyed this book so don’t rely on only my experience when making a decision.
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Source: Review copy.
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